By My Count That Was About As Good As October Gets
By my count that was a pretty good weekend in college football, a course correction from last week's snooze fest, even if a certain University of Texas professor may not have thought it was “alright, alright, alright.”
No. 7 Florida at No. 5 LSU was the clear winner in a crowded contender field, offering a spectacular display of SEC power, prominence, uniform colors, athleticism, pop, sizzle and confection.
LSU’s 42-28 victory in Baton Rouge easily beat out, by my eye-ball test, two competing games on other channels: USC at Notre Dame and Penn State and Iowa.
And THOSE were really good games.
Nothing really tops, though, a game under the lights at LSU when the calendar turns to October, the teams are evenly matched and Ed Orgeron is growling louder than Mike the Tiger.
What I like about the SEC now, more than ever, is that it has finally dropped its pretentious macho stance on how real-man football should be played.
I liked the SEC much less when the head coaches could dictate the final score with their conservatism so they could say after a 7-6 final “that’s just how we play down here.”
Not anymore. Ed Orgeron, as you might expect, was one of the last coaching converts. It took a lot of couch time, therapy and maybe hot yoga for him to realize playing tough against Alabama now gets you beat, 29-0.
Because Nick Saban, of all people, gave up his land-locked ghost a few years back and started running the wide-open offense he said, only five years ago, was dangerous and should be regulated.
LSU’s decision, this past off season, to fully commit to the spread offense has produced what could end up being the most exciting team in school history.
Twice already, against Texas and now Florida, the Tigers refused to milk a late lead for the sake of conventional coaching wisdom. Twice, against Texas and now Florida, the Tigers stayed in attack mode and won by double digits.
Think about this: in 2011, LSU defeated Alabama in a 9-6, OT artery clog people in the South claimed was aesthetically unimpeachable.
In less than a month, LSU and Alabama will play again with just as much at stake.
Except, the games these two power-grab programs are playing now aren’t even remotely related.
Alabama won a game Saturday by the score of 47-28 and no one called the cops.
Isn't it fantastic?
By my count USC fans right now have chewed what was left of their finger nails down to the stubs after the Trojans put out a pretty decent effort in a 30-27 loss at Notre Dame. USC played hard, played long and even got jobbed by Pac 12 refs on a bogus roughing call. Who saw that coming? USC was supposed to drop to 2-4 after getting clobbered in South Bend and that would have marked the pivot turn toward Clay Helton's firing. What now? I don't think anything fundamentally changed regarding Helton's future but this agony-wait could now get stretched out a bit. USC is still very much alive in the Pac 12 race, still holds the tie-break over Utah in the South Division and there's still a chance the Trojans could improve as the season goes on....
By my count Jalen Hurts has the last word after his epic performance in Oklahoma's 34-27 win over Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Some Texas folks were trying to suggest he had never played in anything like the atmosphere surrounding the annual State Fair of Texas game. Hurts, of course, played in two national title games at Alabama and the annual Iron Bowl game against Auburn. It reminded me of the story of what Marilyn Monroe reportedly told husband Joe DiMaggio after she returned from a USO show. "Joe, you've never heard such cheering from the crowds." To which Joe responded, "Yes I have."
Hurts wasn't going to be bothered by the bigness of the moment. All he did against Texas was pass for 235 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 131 yards on 17 carries.
Hurts now has wins against Texas in the Cotton Bowl and Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Like we said, he gets the last word: "I don't know of any other person who can say they got wins in both those games," he said after the game.
By my count Nick Saban is now 18-0 against his former assistants but let’s look more closely at those assistants…Three of them are Billy Napier, Derek Dooley and Jeremy Pruitt. Two more, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart, faced off in Athens on Saturday and did not distinguish themselves in South Carolina’s 20-17 double OT win over not-for-long No. 3 Georgia. Frankly, we’ve seen better late-game coaching at the YMCA.
Muschamp “won” this coach-off notwithstanding his incredible decision to allow, in a tie game, his kicker to try a 57-yard attempt in the final minute. It failed, duh, giving Georgia the ball back with great field position. But Smart then mismanaged the clock in what should have been a decent look at a game-winning field goal. At the 38, with eight seconds left, he opted to run another play that resulted in an illegal-shift penalty. That led to a botched Hail Mary and Georgia's first loss.
By my count Wisconsin has now recorded four shutouts this season and outscored six opponents by the score of 255-29. Yet, some guy on my TV was telling me Penn State was the biggest threat to Ohio State in the Big Ten...
By my count I don't know what's going on anymore. The universities of Oregon and Oklahoma are playing better defense than Alabama? Oregon is 5-1 after Friday's big 45-3 home wallop over Colorado. The Ducks, get this, have allowed only 16 points in three Pac 12 wins. Oregon has allowed only 52 points all season and um, Alabama, has allowed 102. This isn't the Oregon team that used to get laughed at while we tuned in only to see whether the Ducks offense could outscore their defense. Only three seasons ago, 2016, Oregon allowed 52 points against Stanford, 52 points against Cal and 51 points versus Washington State...And what about Oklahoma? The Sooners, under new DC Alex Grinch, have allowed only 122 points in six games (20.3 ppg). Last year they finished T-101 nationally at 33.3 ppg. Saturday, against Texas, Oklahoma recorded nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Who are these guys?
By my count the Mountain West is having one hell-of-a-year against the “big boys.” UNLV’s inexplicable 45-10 win at Vanderbilt ran the MWC’s record to 3-2 against the Southeastern Conference. The MWC is also 4-4 vs. the Pac 12...